Bright Lights & City Beats

///Friction 2.0 Promotes Cycling Through Art

Sustainability is a popular topic these days. Concordia has just passed an initiative to eliminate the sale of bottled water on campus, while design students have been constructing a sustainable student-run café at The Hive on the Loyola campus.

Claire Kenway uses sustainability as a springboard for a novel exhibit that explores the potential of the bicycle as a musical medium with ///Friction 2.0, happening this Thursday at the Société des Arts Technologiques on Saint-Laurent Boulevard.

///Friction 2.0, Kenway is project aiming to push the sustainability angle in a “subliminal way” by offering first and foremost a unique take on both cycling and electronic music.

Three bicycles have been transformed into musical instruments that will be played by DJs during three separate performances throughout the night. It’s what Kenway, also known on as DJ Claire in Montreal and abroad, calls “bike-techno” music.

“I want it to be mostly improvisational,” said Kenway. “I’m curious how their chemistry as friends will dictate how they play.” Together, the three bicycles create a shifting soundscape that approximates the experience of cycling through Montreal, while adding a variable rhythmic component.

The “Electronique” bike provides drum and bass rhythms, all derived from parts of the bicycle, controlled by the handlebar brakes. The bike is also used in a video installation, captured by Kenway as she cycled around the city.

The “Wazou” bike is hooked up to a dynamo generator, which feeds the sound of the rubber tires directly into the speaker. The feed can be cut by applying the brakes.

“It sounds a like a scratch performance in a DJ set,” said Kenway.

The “Wii-cycle” uses Nintendo Wii-Motes to control recordings of sounds from around the city. The sounds of birds chirping, buskers playing instruments, people speaking in different languages, “and of course the sirens”, all add melodic textures to the composition.

“What’s interesting is when [you pedal] really slowly, because you get all these gritty textures. I’m curious to see the nuances that will emerge.”

Kenway hopes that the exhibit will “challenge some of the ways [people] think about transportation and encourage playfulness.”

“I’m hoping people will realize [that] these are the sounds of Montreal,” she said. “People might see a new side of the bicycle, instead of just seeing it as a mode of transportation.”

The project has evolved considerably since its inception and was far more complicated than Kenway initially thought.

“I got this really amazing group of people together who believed in the idea. We worked our asses off,” she said.

DJs Vincent Lemieux, Mossa, Mir and Claire will be providing a danceable musical ambiance. And for the curious participant, there will be plenty of time for audience members to try out the bicycles themselves.

Hop on your bikes, or take the bus if you must, to ///Friction 2.0 this Thursday to experience Montreal in a whole new way.

///Friction 2.0 / April 21 / Société des Arts Technologiques (1201 Boulevard St-Laurent) /
$12, or $10 if you come with a bike helmet or student ID / Installation performances at 8:30pm, 10pm & midnight.